January 25, 2011

How to Use “The Art of War” to Destroy Your Sales Goals

BY John Paul Narowski IN Sales and Marketing One Comment

art of warSun Tzu’s guide to military strategy, leadership and governance, The Art of War, might have been written in the 5th century B.C., but its teachings hold true to this day in a wide range of categories.

Business owners, sales people and managers will all find priceless information in this work.  Understanding and implementing this timeless knowledge will help you achieve your business goals, no matter what industry you work in.

Ignoring them will only lead to your downfall!

If you don’t have the time or desire to read through this ancient work, here are a couple of key lessons you should be aware of:

Dealing With Competition

In regards to plotting a strategy, Sun Tzu says about your opponent:

“Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”

If you’re competition is entrenched in a market, why attack them head on?  Instead of trying to fight an insurmountable force, find where your competition is weak.

Does their key product lack some features?  Is their product line focused more on one segment than another?  Does their customer service need improvement?

Research the dominate players in your market and tailor your product and pitch to exploit their deficits.  Become the “go-to” person in an area that no one else is focusing on.


In one of Sun Tzu’s most famous military examples he teaches us to “burn the boats” and give yourself no retreat.

“Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight.  If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve.”

While it’s impossible to simulate such dire straits as facing death in the modern workplace, you can let yourself, your employees and coworkers know that repeated failure is not an option.  If the sales team fails, the company will eventually fail and everybody will be looking for a job.

Make sure that fate doesn’t befall you by working as though you have no other options.  With this motivation pushing you along, you will find creative solutions to problems that you may have previously abandoned.


Sun Tzu says:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.  If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer defeat.  If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

While in depth analysis of your actions, your company’s results, your competition and the market isn’t always most exciting thing, it is vital to your success.  You have to know where you stand, where your competition stands and what you can do to improve things.

Take a long look at your daily activities.  Are you making yourself busy or are you being productive?  Have you applied the 80/20 Rule to your clients, schedule and overall outlook?

Understand your own weaknesses and strengths, know where your competition is weak and strike accordingly.

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

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